Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Venting - in a good way!

Raise your hand if you get abnormally excited about camper modifications!  *waves hand wildly* ME! ME!! I DO!!!

As of Friday all of the parts needed to install our new roof vent fan had arrived, so we (and by "we" I of course mean Ed - I just got in the way a lot and took pictures) decided to finally take on the task of removing the old air conditioning unit from the top of the camper.  The a/c has never worked and to be honest, we would rarely use it even if it did work - 9 times out of 10 we don't have the electric hook-ups to run it at our camp site.  Essentially we've just been towing about 80-100 pounds of dead weight for the past couple years.  So the decision to go ahead and add the roof vent in place of the a/c unit was a no-brainer for us. 

The problem with making a modification to the roof is that you run the risk of leaks - and leaks are bad.  I'll admit, we were hesitant.  Therefore we did lots of research ahead of time and tried to take the steps necessary to make sure the vent would be sealed well and be free from leaks.  And aside from having to raise and lower the camper several times on a hot day, this project was very easy and we didn't run into any surprises.  We purchased our roof vent on Ebay for around $40, which makes this a relatively inexpensive project as well.

A/c Unit - Before
To start, we (again - this is all Ed) opened the camper and removed the interior ceiling assembly (which was held in place by a few screws) and disconnected the wiring.  The unit only works on shore power, not off of the 12 volt battery, so we removed the electric cord completely from the track it ran through along the ceiling and caulked the hole where it went outside.  

Once the wiring was removed, we unscrewed the four bolts holding the air conditioner in place on the roof.  The camper then had to be lowered to remove the (quite heavy) air conditioner.  This part I actually DID help with - it took two of us to slide it off and lower it to the ground.  Aside from finding lots of dirt and leaves underneath it, we were pleased to discover that there was no caulk or silicone that needed to be scraped away.  The unit itself sat on just a gasket and once gone revealed a nice, neat, roughly 14 x 14 opening.  Exactly what we had hoped to see.

We placed the new vent in the opening and pencil marked its intended location in order to help with the putty tape application.  We used butyl tape instead of caulk to seal the vent (if you're not familiar with butyl tape you can read more about it here, I promise not to bore you with the details!) and it seemed to do a very decent job.  While it's more expensive and can be difficult to work with, the last thing we want are leaks.  The screw heads and vent flange were also covered with butyl tape.

Once the vent was in place on top of the camper, we then had to pop it back up again so we could get inside and install the new ceiling assembly for the fan.  This part was easy - 4 screws in place and the vent was, quite literally, open for business!  I love how it also doubles as a skylight and lets in more light.

New Vent - Installed!

New Vent - Venting!

We have yet to wire the 12 volt fan.  It will be wired directly into the campers 12 volt system so it will work when we only have battery power.  Ed ordered all the necessary wiring this week to complete the job and it should be arriving in the next few days.  I plan to come back and update this post once we've wired the fan. In the meantime, we've left the camper open in the driveway this week, hoping that it will rain so we can test out the butyl tape seal.  I'm happy to report it's been raining here for about 2 hours and all is dry so far!

Yay for camper mods!!!  And mad props to my husband for an awesome job!!!


  1. Yup. Nothing worse than getting wet when you're camping.
    After all that work you [he] did, I think you should run to Starbucks and grab yourself a "venti"

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